tv Tavis Smiley WHUT March 22, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EDT
from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation with "criminal minds" star, thomas gibson. he has made a seamless transition to drum up. "criminal minds" is now one of the most watched shows on television. this is coming up, right now. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions to your pbs station by viewers like you.
thank you. tavis please welcome thomas gibson to this problem. the former "dharma & greg "far and away -- the and "dharma & greg -- the former "dharma & greg" star. now, a scene from "criminal minds." >> they broke in it through a back window. >> in each case, the family member was shot and killed? >> yes. >> their alarm systems would not more, and they cannot call for help. >> a backup generator and a cell
phone connection. >> they were behind on their account, so it was inactive. >> so both families were armed and fought back and shot one of their attackers? >> the frequency of the kills. it is a long flight. we had better get going. tavis: this stuff would really freaks you out if you are not well adjusted. >> it is true. someone i was talking to the other day said, "i am a single person at home. i cannot watch it if i do not have somebody there or i am not at somebody else's house." one of the things that i think it's helpful about that you do not think about is that it does raise awareness. there is an fbi profiler named
jim clementi. he has also written some episodes. "did you ever have this particular case," i asked him, and he said he had had it several times. he says this actually helps, so -- newmont tavis: -- so -- tavis: as i was saying to you the other day, and was flying back to l.a., and there was the television on demand listing. i watched eight episodes of you between connecticut and los angeles. >> that is a lot of "criminal minds." tavis: and there was one that i was watching where they had cut up the body parts and had served them in chili.
>> he was actually feeding the victim to those who were looking for the victim. that might be in our top five twisted abbasids. tavis: if there are five, i do not want to know the other four. >> one was based on a real case, and the way we played it is the thing that tipped us off as to how many killings that had gone on is that we found an entire dumpster of shoes, and they belonged to all of the victims, and once they were laid out, there were dozens of shoes. yes, it is. it definitely gets you. when we sit down and read it once before we start shooting it from beginning to end with our guest cast, and the writers want to hear how it flows and how the
story goes from and to end out loud, -- from end to end, that is when it has its biggest impact, and i think it will be really nice to do a comedy this week. it is another crime solved, another bad guy to catch. when we break it up into pieces and shoot it back to front and inside out, you do not necessarily have the same impact, but when i walk onto the set, and it is a particularly messy set, with a literal blood on the floor, and you do want to, obviously, invest the moment or a couple of moments to make it our real for yourself, and before then, you step away and have the professional demeanor that these characters would while on that set, and i have a friend. he is a police chief in san antonio where i live, and he was
talking to me about what we do in our little fictional world as opposed to what they do in the real world, and he said, "have you ever been on a murder scene ?" and i said, "no, only on a fictional one." he said i did a good job. but he said, "if you want a little more, just let me know." tavis: you could not want more. >> if he said, "you guys do a good job" -- tavis: you mentioned a moment ago, and you mentioned, it. this is a long way from "dharma & greg." >> and almost could not be farther away. -- it almost could not be farther away.
tavis: did you like it? >> yes, i did. if someone asks what the definition of success is, it would be to work on as many kinds of things as possible. i did it as a younger actor, i worked on a crutch for a summer where you did two or three shakespeares, and you did a different one almost every night, and it is an amazing experience to have that kind of variety from night to night, and this certainly is a challenge, in your 7 now, to find those things that are fresh and interesting -- in year 7 now, to find those things that are fresh and interesting. it makes it challenging. the characters grow. things happen in their lives. this job has a big impact on
their personal lives and on their psyches, and that is interesting. tavis: this is season 7. what is your sense about what makes this show work? it can be freaky, as we said earlier, and there are so many of these crimes shows. just because it is the thing to do does not mean that you will make it. they have lost some that did not work out. >> it is the universality, this is a proposition, maybe, but i thought about it. it may just be the universality which are sure addresses every week, which is, what happened in this person's life? this heinous crime. what happened in this person's life to take them down this road. psychologically, you know, where were they? what kind of genetic cards or
they dealt? and what kind of environmental cards where they dealt to, but the perfect storm that made them incapable of this horrific thing -- that made them capable of this horrific thing? tavis: i sent a couple of years ago but i would stop using the phrase "i would never do that? " in that perfect storm of negativity, because we are human, we are capable of doing anything, so personally, i cannot speak for oth people, but i just stop saying "would never do that." -- "i would never do that." i am wondering if you have changed your opinion about what human beings are capable of.
>> we are bombarded with it. people think that human beings have gotten worse, because of a society's, because of the pressures of modern society, we have gotten worse and have gotten capable of doing more terrible things. i do not necessarily think that that is true. i think we hear more about it because we have got this media structure that is relentless, but i do, i do think that we are all capable of anything, and it has been that way for a long time. i was just talking about all of the sort of great shakespeare plays. they deal with some of the similar questions that we are dealing with, and that is just a very small sort of a subset of a plane ride that was writing about people at a particular time -- a subset of a plea right -- a playwrite that was
writing about people at a particular time. tavis: there was an acting teacher when you bring getting started to really wanted to play a prince, and you pouted for days. you are still counting all of these years later, because you wanted to be the villain -- you are still pouting. >> i have had probably way too many acting classes. you try to shed what -- i think over period of time, you will shed things. somebody always talked about when you are playing a villain, finding the bridge was parts of that character, and vice versa. -- finding the villainous parts of the character, and vice versa
when you are playing a prince. the cardboard cutout villain where your cardboard cutout -- or your cardboard cutout prince. tavis: i was quoting martin luther king is said there is some evil and all of us and some good in all of us -- martin luther king, who said there is some evil and some good in all of us. >> they human foibles of, say, our politicians and things like that -- the human foibles of our politicians and things like that. americans love giving people a second chance, but in a way, you look at the pressures that are on people who are in public life and public office these days, and they do not want to put their families through the scrutiny, because they are held to certainly a high standard, but in some respects, i think
they end up -- people forget that they are human and they do these things. tavis: when you are on a show like this for seven years, i wonder, and i do not want to overstate this, but i do not want to understand it either, i wonder if there is a part of you that feel as you are doing a public service, that you are not just entertaining us. >> i would not, you know, give us that kind of importance, but i think that the people who do this job for real, and we have been lucky enough to meet and whole bunch of them, are really on song heroes -- unsung heroes. we get to fly in a fancy, a private jet to all of these places. the real fbi profilers fly economy. there are a few fictions that we take, a few, you know,
departures from reality, and i think that the one good service that we do is kind of may be sure people how dedicated -- kind of maybe show people how dedicated they are every day, to balance dozens of cases and not just the one case that began to concentrate on every week. the best thing we can do to show how dedicated they are. if, for instance, somebody becomes a little more aware of something that happens, you know, that sticks with them that they think, well, that does not make sense. maybe i should make a call about this person. i think that is great, but i would not necessarily go round congratulating us for it, you know? tavis: one of the things, and this is my personal pet peeve, i like that there is diversity
among the team. and television can be that way if people are conscious of that that is not like that, but on that show, there is a diversity on the team. >> early on, it just occurred to me that we were like sherlock holmes split into six or seven characters, and each of us had our own expertise. in the pilot of the show, we were all introduced as having our own expertise that we would bring to a case, our own point of view, and there is something about this particular group, because you can throw great scripps at a great group of actors, and it just does not work -- you can throw great scripts at great actors. this works. we have had a couple of characters come and go, but there is a sense of teamwork that these guys have. they bring all of their own
individual points of view. all of the characters. joe's. we all bring our particular point of view to a case, but we also function very well not only as an acting team, but i also think this group functions well as a team, and that is what i think they enjoy seeing. a friend of mine, he was talking the other day when he came to visit are set for the first time, and he said, "you know, it could be a team of any kind of tasks. it could be people making automobiles, other things," but he said, "it is really the team that makes it great." tavis: yes. you mentioned earlier in the conversation that you live in san antonio. >> i do. tavis: you did not always live
there. >> it is my wife's hometown. tavis: that answers that question. >> i just had to be closer. exactly. tavis: i got it. i thought maybe there was a reason that you and your family wanted to get out of this craziness that is hollywood. >> i went to school and bought an apartment in new york and came to hollywood to pay the mortgage on the new york apartment, of course, and i was planning on going back and still have not made it back, so, and you know, the co-op board in new york was interviewing me, and i had been in the apartment, subletting from a friend, off and they said, "we understand you are an actor and about being -- the lure of l.a.," and here i am. we have no family in california. when our kids were very young, and "dharma & greg" was over,
for the next two years, every job took me out of l.a., and we talked about making this job. nothing will get you a job faster in l.a. is to do this, so no sooner than where we in san antonio, i was back in l.a., doing my part for the airline industry. there is a certain airline that was in chapter 11 which is now doing just fine. tavis: thanks to you. >> and i am taking all of the credit, all of the credit. tavis: has this career to date turned out the way that you thought it would? after "dharma & greg," it seemed to me to slow down just a little bit, and maybe it did not. >> part of it was literally leaving town. tavis: right.
>> it was sort of a crossroads at the time if i wanted to do another television show or features or to do a play. having children changes your priorities, and i think having a steady, good gig, where you feel challenged as an actor, and also you have some sort of regular the in your life, which is difficult for any actor to muster, so this particular show when it did come along, and there were some other ones that either did not seem like the right fit, but i did do a couple of features, and i did a couple of television movies. i did a miniseries in the interim of those shows. my career is, to me, it is a work in progress, you know? there are certain things where i
say, what would have been different if that would have happened instead? i am just interested in looking forward and continuing to work. there are a few things that isolette to do. there are some plays that i want to do before i shot it all down. but right now, this is a great gig. i certainly would love to do a couple of things. i want to get back to directing a little bit and see where that takes me. tavis: i am curious about the plate -- plays. i was listening to you when you said, "i want to do this and this and this." it is a very special blessing to be connected to two hit shows. there are people who live thei lives trying to get one series,
and you have had two long- running series, one, b and one drama -- one comedy and one drama. >> i was doing "chicago hope," too. it was a good show, but it is not what i felt i wanted to be doing. before i knew it, i got another job, which went away because of scheduling, and then two days later, i met with chuck lorre. tavis: it is a long y from the soap operas. >> and now, the soap operas have died. there were two, three, or four, and they were great for an
actor who needed to pay off its credit cards and make it permanent. one of the ones i did, and i did it for three months one summer, but i was also doing a play, and they were able to help guarantee that. it was great, a very nice life for in new york actors to sort of balanced -- to sort of balance that. the theater does not play that well. tavis: the theater is pulling you back, and that you are missing begin on the stage. >> it is what i did in school and fort at least -- and for a least some after that. -- at least some after that. it is stuff that you want more of. it is like a drug.
i crave that. it is nice, too, on a sit-com to have an audience there, but there is still a wall of cameras. when you have that unfiltered, there is nothing like it. tavis: camera 3. i just want you to look into camera. smile. >> -- look into a camera 3 -- into camera 3 and smile. >> why? tavis: i just wanted to give you a chance to smile, because you never smile. >> when a private is britain, the characters are sketches at best -- when a pilot is written. that is a good place to start.
i am curious what kind of an effect this has on an agent with a young family, and i was warned by one of the producers during the pilot that they already had a dark character, and they did not need another one. i said i wanted to play the reality of what this is. there are certainly moments of levity. to blow off some steam. his marriage fell apart, and he took a lot of it. he was the guy who was not able to leave the office. that was a very different conceptual idea from the way it was originally. and so, i think he is a little bit shut down, no doubt about it, but we are trying to reach
him. definitely there. it is definitely there. i think that we offstage or offscreen, we have one of the loosest sense i have ever been on. we laugh a lot. -- one of the loosest sets that i have ever been on. we laugh a lot. tavis: it is thomas gibson on "criminal minds." thank you. >> it is great to be here. tavis: that is our show until next time. keep the faith. >> i am not there. ow. >> are you all right? cramped? >> i am going to beat you. >> that is really pathetic, really. you know, you do not win if you
cheat. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i am tavis smiley. join us next time with matthew weiner. that is next time. see you then. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's e cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> and by contributions from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more.